I love my 96 Avalon. I have had it for almost 2 years. In the course of this time it developed a significant oil leak and I thought it would cost an arm and a leg to fix. It was only $225 (including labor) to replace the crank shaft seal and since the timing belt is adjacent to it, that was replaced as well! I have replaced struts, tires, a control arm, a caliper, and have had it regularly maintained. The display lights are going out and the CD player and tape player no longer work but the radio does. It has 198,000 miles on it and is still running splendidly. When it is time for this gem to retire I would really like another Avalon.
My 1996 Toyota Avalon was a gift to me in 2002. The car at that time had approximately 60,000 miles. This car has been so reliable that I am still driving it shy of a decade later. I currently have over 307,000 miles and counting. I have had to do a bit of work on the engine (valve gasket covers etc) when the mileage reached around 280,000, but it's running on the same transmission. I liked this car so much until I had shipped from Mississippi to Washington State with 300,000 miles because I trusted its reliability. It hasn't let me down, but it may be in its last years. Can't complain with over 307,000 miles.
When I was a sophomore in high school I saved up $2200 and bought this car. When I bought it the dealership told me that the struts needed replaced. I had the car for 3 years. In that time, I replaced the struts, bushings, sway bar, had two brake jobs and bought 3 used tires to replace the ones it had. I pay for any luxuries in my life (this was a luxury to me) so I always bought the cheapest parts/labor. This may be why I kept having to get work done. I'm now a college sophomore, and 3 weeks ago while drive from school to home (120 miles- 3hrs), I ran off the highway and rolled the car. My car looked horrible but it kept me safe. I came out with one little scratch. Everyone was amazed at it
My dad bought it new in 96 and has driven it around town 80-90% of the time. Over the past 19 years he's only had to replace the components that typically fail in these first generation Avalons: the valve cover gaskets (at 150,000 miles) and now a new rack and pinion assembly (at 180,000 miles). For its age and considering that the vast majority of the miles have been hard "city" miles the car drives exceptionally well, accelerates smoothly (the 3.0 is VERY torquey), and shifts effortlessly. The seats are incredibly comfortable and roomy and I am often complimented on how well it still rides 19 years later. Also, the build quality is fantastic; interior materials are of very high quality, road noise is kept to a minimum, and there are NO noises generated from inside the car. Even after losing oil pressure twice (at 145,000 miles and 175,000) the engine still runs like new, you just can't kill these Avalons. I fully intend to replace the timing belt and water pump for the second time soon and drive it for many years to come. Gas mileage is superb, I average around 20 in town and routinely in the low 30s on road trips at around 70 MPH.
We bought this car four years ago and it has been nothing but reliable for us. Starts easily even in bitter cold. We haven't had to do anything other than routine maintenance to this car. Smooth ride. Roomy backseat - three kids can fit easily (two with carseats). Nice trunk space. Ride has gotten a bit noisier through the years, but is not unacceptable for a ten year old car. We have about 170K on this right now and will keep it for as long as it will go. Our Camry had 250k on it when we finally sold that (was still running and in great condition), so we have high hopes for the Avalon.